Miriam Boeri

Associate Professor of Sociology, Bentley University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

About Miriam

Boeri’s research focuses on people who use drugs and their social environments. By examining the intersection of socio-economic status, race, gender, and social capital over the life course, Boeri looks for turning points and transitions in drug use trajectories to better understand how to target services for people who need them. Boeri's aim is to reduce the adverse health effects associated with drug use and the harmful social impact of punitive drug policy. Boeri's recent work calls for including alternative strategies to complement conventional drug treatment practices. Committed to including the voices of the marginalized and disenfranchised, Boeri is a strong advocate of harm reduction initiatives. Boeri has received funding from the National Institutes of Health to study drug use in suburban areas, and currently is conducting a study on the opioid crisis in the suburban towns around Boston and Atlanta


In the News

Opinion: "What to Expect When You’re Expecting Prop. 2 to Pass," Miriam Boeri, The Salt Late Tribune, October 1, 2018.
Guest on WCVB 5, March 23, 2018.
Opinion: "Re-Criminalizing Cannabis is Worse than 1930s 'Reefer Madness': Guest Opinion," Miriam Boeri, The Oregonian, January 18, 2018.
Regular contributions by Miriam Boeri to The Conversation.
Guest on WBZ/CBS Boston, March 3, 2016.
Opinion: "Gendered Lives of Drug Use in the Suburbs," Miriam Boeri, Gender & Society Blog, February 1, 2014.


Inside Ethnography: Researchers Reflect on the Challenges of Reaching Hidden Populations (edited with Rashi K. Shukla) (University of California Press, November 2019).

Shares the realities of fieldwork in action with a focus on strategies employed with populations at society’s margins. Contains chapters from 21 contemporary ethnographers that examine cutting-edge studies with honesty and introspection, drawing readers into the field to visualize the challenges they’ve faced. Represents disciplinary approaches from criminology, sociology, anthropology, public health, business, and social work, and designed explicitly for courses on ethnographic and qualitative methods, crime, deviance, drugs, and urban sociology. Portray an evolving methodology that adapts to the conditions of the field while tackling emerging controversies with perceptive sensitivity.

"’I Don’t Know What Fun Is:’ Examining the Intersection of Social Capital, Social Networks, and Social Recovery" (with Megan Gardner, Erin Gerken, Melissa Ross, and Jack Wheeler). Alcohol Today 16, no. 1 (2016): 95-105.

Examines the lives of people with low socioeconomic status and problematic drug use, in order to see how they access positive social capital, distinguished by bonding, bridging and linking social capital. Highlights through its findings, the need for a greater focus on linking social capital through access to natural networks in mainstream society. 

"Gaps in Medical Marijuana Policy Implementation: Real-Time Perspectives from Marijuana Dispensary Entrepreneurs, Health Care Professionals, and Medical Marijuana Patients" (with Aukje Lamonica and Timothy Anderson). Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 23, no. 5 (2016): 422-434.

Examines the challenges of implementing marijuana policy in Massachusetts, where recent policy shifts have occurred. Provides findings that show a need for more transparency in implementation processes, more effective mode of communicating regulations, and a comprehensive plan for medical marijuana education.

"Conceptualizing Social Recovery: Recovery Routes of Methamphetamine Users" (with Paul Boshears and David Gibson). Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology 2, no. 1 (2014): 5-38.

Provides in-depth interviews and drug histories that were collected from 50 former methamphetamine users, as well as examined for common strategies used on their route to recovery. Offer findings that suggest a shift in the primary focus from the cessation of all drug use, to reducing the social harms caused by problematic drug use, conceptualized as “social recovery."

"Women on Ice: Methamphetamine Use among Suburban Women" (Rutgers University Press, 2013).

Provides a narrative-driven account of suburban women’s everyday lives that includes drug-using activities, and the choices they made within different social and cultural contexts.  Advocates  through the policy chapter for change in drug policy, and offers suggestions for alternatives to criminalization and “one-size fits all” treatment models. 

"Social Recovery, Social Capital, and Drug Courts" (with Aukje Lamonica and Liam Harbry). Practicing Anthropology 33, no. 1 (2011): 8-13.

Explains how the “social recovery initiative” (SRI) was implemented as a complement to a drug court treatment program, based on the theoretical framework of social capital. Includes a description of activities designed to engage recovering individuals in social events with the aim to form new social networks before leaving the treatment program. 

"Reconceptualizing Early- and Late-Onset: A Life Course Analysis of Older Heroin Users" (with Claire E. Sterk and Kirk W. Elifson). The Gerontologist 48 (2008): 637-645.

Argues that the baby boomer generation is not aging out of drug use as the maturing out thesis predicted, but that they are “maturing in” as well as “into” drug use as they age. Utilizes a life course perspective, in order to gain better understanding of older adult drug use, specifically contrasting early- and late-onset heroin users.